What’s the Line Between Erotic Romance and Erotica?

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I suppose every writer has a slightly different definition, but for me one of the differences has to do with the presence (or absence) or a strong, believable plot. I see erotica as a series of sex scenes with either no plot, or a very thin one sort of tossed into the mix as an afterthought. Applying this definition, a book can have some amazingly smutty sex scenes, but still not be erotica if there’s a compelling plot that pulls the reader along. You know, something more than curiosity about what the next sex scene will look like.
I probably shouldn’t admit this, but books without plots aren’t very interesting to me. Yeah, it makes me look pretty dated, huh? Crabby, old woman who insists on books that actually have a storyline. I’ll write steamy, descriptive sex, but it has to be a normal progression of my story, not just a sex scene because we went a few hundred words without one.
Another big difference is erotica doesn’t require a HEA or HFN. All romance books do. It’s part of their timeless appeal. Digging a little deeper, for the romance genre, the romance is the story. I’ve gotten a complaint or two for some of my books that, if you took the romance away, there would still be a story. I just hang my head, blush, and mutter, “Guilty as charged.” Virtually all my books feature subplots that support the romance, but could easily exist on their own. I’m fascinated by complicated plots, different worlds, different timeframes, and mingling them into believable wholes with hot alpha men and strong, confident women.
I have several urban fantasy romance and science fiction romance series, plus a bunch of standalone novellas/novels. While I enjoy series work, romance series require a new romance for each one. Hence, a new H/h combo. Sometimes, I prefer to write a two or three part series with the same protags. It’s actually not uncommon in urban fantasy, which is mostly what I write (with a smattering of historical tossed in).
The Dragon Lore Series includes an ancient, time-traveling dragon shifter who’s been asleep for three hundred years. It’s urban fantasy, but with strong romantic elements. To Love a Highland Dragon, has an HEA. The first book in that series, Highland Secrets, has a HFN. In book three, Dragon Maid, there’s yet another dragon shifter couple with an HEA. The final book in that series, Dragon’s Dare, doesn’t introduce any new major characters, but the couple from the first book finally, finally claw their way to an HEA.
There’s a time and place for every story. Erotica has an appeal, but I think it’s different from erotic romance, or the other romance genres. What do you think? Do you have a preference when you’re hunting down something new to read?

4 thoughts on “What’s the Line Between Erotic Romance and Erotica?

  1. I must be old fashioned to thse I love reading a good story. I don’t mind what the hero looks like as long as long as I can fall in love with him. I also like a good HEA . If there’s no plot and all sex it’s just boring.

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  2. I definitely prefer erotic romance. I love my HEAs. I do think erotica can (and probably should) have plot, however. Because of the nature of the story, it’s usually a sex-based plot with the turning points involving something sexual. That’s my take. Always an interesting discussion. 🙂

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